On THAT Michaella McCollum Interview

This interview has captured the attention of the entire nation.  Since it was aired, apparently 500,000 people have watched it, which is pretty mind-boggling.  There was some discussion about it tonight on Claire Byrne Live (which I was in the audience of – go me), but unfortunately, due to time constraints, some points, including my own, went unsaid.  I figured I would use this nifty little platform of mine to discuss the interview a little more!


It seemed to me that the interview was largely focused on the impact that prison had on McCollum personally.  This, I think could be quite dangerous.  In talking about her anxiety and malaise instead of the moral issues surrounding her crime, I think the audience’s attention is drawn away from the aspect of the story more deserving of attention:  This girl did something immoral,dangerous and extremely selfish.
The media is responsible for framing the news in a way that benefits the general public and I’m not sure that I think RTE did that in this particular interview.
If the journalist had pressed McCollum to face up to the effects of drug trafficking, it might have left less of a bitter taste in my mouth.  He could have mentioned the taxes people must pay to offset the burden on hospitals caused by drug addiction, or looking at how it destroys abusers’ lives, or how by supporting the sale of illicit drugs, you also fund blood-thirsty cartels and the trafficking of sex workers.  Instead, this journalist actually told Michaella that she owed her explanation to her family and not the public.  Bizarre!
When watching the programme, I saw a lot about how drug trafficking can impact the perpetrators and how harsh the Peruvian justice system is.   Is it right that the fear of sanction should be what deters somebody from getting involved in that sort of crime?  Not an awareness of the effects you could have on other people’s lives?  Anyway, countless studies have shown that fear of punitive action is not as effective as education is in preventing both violent crime and crimes relating to drugs.
There are McCollum apologists who talk about how she has served her time and shouldn’t be scrutinised for her past actions anymore.  In fact, she served about half of her sentence and was released because of a program designed to relieve the pressure on women’s prisons in Peru. Pressure induced by people like McCollum, committing similar, drugs-related crimes!.  Now I’m not saying that RTE had an opportunity to reduce crime, here.  To talk about it in such a soft way probably won’t drive more people to follow the path she chose all those years ago, but it certainly can’t help either.


Moreover, there is a big  difference between serving your time before quietly returning to your old life, and serving your time and then becoming a national celebrity because of it.  Why must the media fetishise such bad things?  Let’s celebrate those who have done good in the world, not talk about a former model turned criminal.

Ultimately, what rubbed me up the wrong way was how the majority of her remorse seemed to be based on how the whole experience made her feel, how it impacted her family and other self-interested reasons.  The message that that sends out, as I see it, is if you’re going to traffic drugs, make sure you don’t get caught.  This is, of course, starkly different to warning people of the evils of the illicit drugs trade and bringing up the questions of morality associated with it.  On the basis that the whole program seemed so rehearsed, I wish they would have made the sob story just a tad more believable.
I would hate to see this woman rise to fame as a victim without any emphasis placed on how she completely disregarded human lives when she did what she did.
I don’t know if this is of any interest at all to any of you, but I just thought that it might be a good place for people to talk about how they feel!  Did you also feel that McCollum’s crime and punishment were presented as some kind of adventure or did you feel that RTE effectively showed that a life of crime isn’t something anyone should aspire to?
Let me know, yo!
This article is my own opinion as of the date it was published.  My opinion is subject to change as new information comes to light.  I am human and am capable of misjudging situations as is anyone else.  Be nice to me!



2 thoughts on “On THAT Michaella McCollum Interview

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